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Steeped in Melancholy, Ultha Reveals “Cyanide Lips”

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Sometimes you get to where you want to be quicker than you’d imagined; however, the path behind you never fully determines (or protects) the one in front of you. German black metal outfit Ultha, in their fourth active year, have made wild progressions soundwise while retaining a core thematic essence: that of sensational melancholy, that of profound self-doubt, that of existential suffering. Trailing on the leads of 2016’s sophomore full-length Converging Sins and a subsequent split with Paramnesia and an EP, the band is now poised to release their greatest effort yet: a magnum opus called The Inextricable Wandering. It both reflects upon prior releases but acts as a wild departure as well. Check out a premiere of the album’s fourth song “Cyanide Lips” below.

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Personal background is important to understanding Ultha’s take on black metal. While not strictly conventional, the band relies on complex swaths of blast beats, meandering song structures and chords, and a plethora of tempo changes. The mood is permanently dark, basking in the shadows of a blackened sun, carried forth on the hollow howls of frontman and guitarist Ralph Schmidt. This is to say that The Inextricable Wandering is a lot to take in at once; however, if viewed as a journey, or an expression of a journey past, it comes sharper into focus.

“I was in a very lost, helpless, and self-destructive state of mind, as I endured one of the roughest six months I ever had to go through. So, a lot of bands that usually cradle me, and therefore have had an impact on my writing, were simply not doing the trick at this time,” Schmidt says. “The bands that gave me stability, relief, and motivation were different from those when we wrote Converging Sins. Therefore, The Inextricable Wandering certainly differs in sound and style. It’s still very much Ultha, as the others and I balance the ideas until we all agree that a song works for us.”

“Cyanide Lips,” specifically, feels microcosmic for the album as a well: arranging sensitive, less-aggressive moments within hyper-aggressive pummeling for a fully rounded, dynamic package. Again, the melancholic mood is pervasive, as intense moments ebb and flow between tense, quieter periods of introspection. Ultimately, it seems, there’s only so far you can dive into your own self before you discover great perils: uncertainty, fear, hopelessness, suffering. The question remains: is our outlook so bleak, and if it is, would The Inextricable Wandering be the music for it? Judging on “Cyanide Lips,” it would rank up there for sure.

“Chronic melancholia is pretty much the very core of me and I am sort of the core of what results in Ultha’s music and aesthetic,” Schmidt says. “I know that melancholy has had an intense grip on me for the better part of my 39 years on this planet and has influenced all my musical output. It’s not often that I feel well and there is not much I see in the future, so this omnipresent sadness and hopelessness is the key element to Ultha’s art.”

The Inextricable Wandering releases October 5th via Century Media. Visit the band on their website and Facebook. Pre-orders can be had here.

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Photo credit: Ivan K. Maras

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